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Chapter 4: The Villa at Site 10 - Description and Function of the Industrial Rooms or Areas

See "Site 10: Villa - Plans and Reconstructions" section of this report for room designations by number.

The rooms or areas of the Site 10 Villa where industrial activity took place, at least during phases 2C and 2D, comprise its southeastern quadrant (see "Site 10: Villa - Plans and Reconstructions"). It is likely that the northeastern quadrant did not become industrialized until Phase 2D when the villa was extended to the north. The industrial functions of the villa involve both the production of wine in phases 2C and 2D, perhaps even earlier, and the washing and dyeing of raw wool with the creation of a fulonica in Phase 2D. 46

The emplacement for what I believe to be a simple screw press and its collection tank somewhat lower in elevation than the 2D floor, both exterior to Room 49, give evidence of wine production certainly as early as Phase 2C 47 The press and probably its collection tank or basin are then retained and brought within the confines of Room 49 in Phase 2D. At this same time two new collection tanks serving a raised treading basin are constructed in Room 49 48 The treading basin is placed against the villa's southern perimeter wall and directly above its southern cuniculus 49 We might ask if the expansion of the wine producing facilities found here, especially when what happens in the north is taken into account, is sufficient for the Site 10 Villa to be working cooperatively with neighboring villas in the production of wine.50

In Phase 2D the northeastern quadrant of the Site 10 Villa is also turned over to wine making. In Room 53 at least one mechanical press was installed with related collection tanks (see "Site 10: Villa - Plans and Reconstructions") Proof of a mechanical press is its ara emplacement and appropriate channels for drainage, all composed of opus spicatum, and the block for the press's arbores. These elements are well preserved in situ. What is designated Room 52, which has dolium cuts in its beaten earth floor, could have been unroofed and separate from Room 53. Although the enclosed courtyard thus created is a guess, it is based on light and technical roofing considerations.

Rooms 54 and 55 lie to the north of Room 53 and, as said, what I interpret as an enclosed yet unroofed courtyard (Room 52). The exact function in wine making of Room 55 can not be determined, but Room 54 probably contained more treading basins. All evidence of the sides of these basins has been lost to the plough; however, the make-up for a compartmentalized concrete floor remains. The area had a drain into what is likely a cuniculus below. If our assumption is correct, this cuniculus and the one to the south provided not only easy communication for slaves throughout the villa and what we believe to be bedrock-cut fermentation chambers along the villa's western flank, but also a means of collecting the must in amphorae. 51

Two late vats, one stepped, south of the press and a large scooped-out hollow that at one time held a dolium immediately to the west, raise certain questions. The dolium interrupts the intended flow of the must into its collection tank just beyond. At the same time what need would there have been for a stepped tank or vat to the south if the production of wine was the sole use of the press? Is it possible the mechanical press is finally converted to extracting oil from olives instead of must from grapes? Also what is the purpose of a large rectangular cut into the bedrock, at least a meter and a half deep, just behind the press? Could it have accommodated a weight-stone for the press or did it have to do with the cuniculus system? 52

To return to the southeastern quadrant of the Site 10 Villa, it is here we find what appears to be a fulonica (Room 74). True, only depressions mark what I presume are three washing and dyeing basins, but all three had drains to the cuniculus below. Besides these basins, there was a marble-lined tank evidently once connected to the robbed-out plumbing following the course of a bedrock-cut channel. (See "Site 10 Villa: Plans and Reconstructions" section) The architectural configuration for these basins and tanks involve the creation of an open courtyard (Room 78) surrounded by three generous corridors (again, Room 74). The southern corridor contained the basins and tanks discussed above; the western corridor was perhaps a latrine retained from 2C.

Nearby was a long room (Room 72) with a floor once raised on square tiles and also hollow circular terracotta posts along its edges (see "Site 10 Villa: Plans and Reconstructions"). Next to this room or space was another space (Room 71), this time almost square and initially connected to the first by means of a passage or door which was later blocked. The flooring (the underflooring?) of both spaces was at the same level and made up of rectangular tiles. A furnace or firing chamber was discovered to the west of the first space and south of the second. The purpose of this suite offers several possibilities. Were they drying rooms heated by a hypocaust for newly washed wool or even recently woven finished cloth? Perhaps a bath suite for slaves (but if so why here)? Another possibility is that the first room or space identifies a small kiln for tiles (but then why two spaces which once connected)? 53

The main reason that the interpretation of the remains found here is so difficult is because the eastern perimeter wall of the villa is pushed out, with its Phase 2B corner to the north as a fulcrum.. This change in plan and elevation is what allows for both the north and south enclosed courtyards as well as a new eastern portico formed of piers.54

One Additional space (Room 73) should be included among the industrial elements or installatoins of Phase 2D. Attached to the southeastern corner of the expanded villa on its eastern flank was a round concrete structure with an exterior reticulate face. Cuttings in the bedrock floor could represent a destroyed cuniculus; no higher floor above the bedrock was found. This structure, certainly tower-like in appearance, probably served as a silo for the storage of winter fodder for animals (sheep?). The upper reaches could have provided a dovecot. Its slight interior diameter (2.1 meters) would have made an internal staircase difficult and therefore argues against a tower for communication with neighbors and the city.

Addendum to Chapter 4:

Entrances from the Outside into the Industrial Areas of the Villa at Site 10

It is more difficult to establish entrances into the industrial areas than it is to the residential and bathing rooms of the villa. This is in part due to the incorporation and creation of ever greater space for agricultural industry (wine making on a grander scale and the insertion of a fulonica).

In Phase 2D a small "U" plan corridor (Room 74) wraps around what would appear to be an unroofed space (Room 78). This small complex contains the vats and basins which comprise the necessary components of a fulonica. Also a long portico (Room 24) is constructed against the new eastern perimeter wall of the villa in Phase 2D. The earlier portico of Phase 2C (Room 24) is demolished to make way for the corridors of the fulonica. At the same time a large eastward extension to the villa, perhaps even multi-storied, is constructed on its own newly cut terrace platform (rooms 80 and 81).55

With the installation of a mechanical press in the northeast quadrant of the villa in Phase 2D, extensive changes take place. An unroofed area with collection (fermentation?) dolia replaces a corridor from phases 2B and 2C. This last led from the then northern perimeter wall at its far eastern end to the interior of the villa, more specifically the eastern corridor of the peristyle (Room 4). This entrance from the outside is thus eliminated in Phase 2D. Its substitution may well be a reworked corridor (Room 76) which leads to both the press rooms and the eastern corridor of the peristyle, a space which at some late date too had emplacements for dolia. This reworked entrance is the only one leading into the industrial quarters with an in situ stone threshold. Another entrance into the corridors of the fulonica opens from the Phase 2D eastern portico. At the same time a cuniculus entrance to the north is brought within the confines of the new portico.56

No entrances/exits from or to the outside leading to the treading basins found in the southeast quadrant of the villa could be identified with any certainty. These, however, must have been present for both Phase 2C and Phase 2D. Communication within the spaces containing the treading and collection basins is more obvious from the remaining evidence. (See "Site 10 : Villa - Plans and Reconstructions").

All text and images copyright © 2002 by Walter Widrig and Rice University. Last updated May 2007 by